Tips for a Successful (not always happy but functioning) Marriage
Moving To A New City Might Be The Death Of My Husband
– Just Kidding
As you probably know by know my family is moving to a new city 2 hours away from where we are now. Let me start by saying moving sucks. It’s difficult, heavy, not fun, causes stress which leads to arguments with your loved ones…in my case, my husband!
We got into a whopper of a fight and I can’t even tell you what is was about. But I found myself literally sitting in the middle of what will be our office, sitting on the floor in a sweaty mess, surrounded by stacks of un-packed boxes. I have gone through the series of emotions; rage, sadness, confusion, tears (yes in my world tears are an emotion) and now on pondering. Why, why am I with this man that drives me insane? Do I need to keep trying so hard to make things easy for him when it doesn’t seem reciprocated?
That’s when I got the text from my husband….”I am an ass! You’re a bitch! We both suck…come downstairs I got you Dutch Bros!” And just like that the fight was over.
So later that night as I laid in bed pondering the day it dawned on me that there are many people nowadays that give up way to easily on marriage or perhaps even get married for the wrong reasons. Myself, I am of the latter version, it has taken me a few attempts at marriage to finally get it right.
So, I wanted to make sure that I focused on what life lessons have taught me and really look at things so that I could share them with my kids. Try to be the example or at least a well of knowledge for them and of course that leads me to think…I should share this on my blog too!
So, here you go –
Mama D’s Tips for a Successful (not always happy but functioning) Marriage
1. Be Together For the Right Reasons
I got married the first time because I was pregnant and that’s what you were supposed to do. Wrong. I got married the second time because needed to be in order to sever the parental rights of my son’s father. Also wrong. Took me awhile to figure out what should have been obvious from the start, the only reason you should ever be with a person is because you simply love being around them.
I believe that in order for a relationship to “work” there needs to be a genuine, deep-level admiration for each other. Without that mutual admiration, everything else will fall apart.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
Seriously, there are going to be days you think you hate your husband! There is no way in hell that you will be absolutely head over heels for each other every single day for the rest of your lives. Not Going To Happen! Relationships are work, all day every day! Today for me was one of those days!
Love — is a choice. It’s a constant commitment and promise to a person who you know, without a doubt, isn’t going to always make you happy.
This love – true love – is hard. It doesn’t always feel good. It isn’t always pretty with hearts and butterflies. Seriously, it more like a drunken hangover, vomit in your hair but damn last night was fun kind of look!. It’s dealing with another person’s insecurities, fears, opinions and ideas, even when you don’t want to.
3. You Gotta Have Respect
My husband and I have been together 6 years. And I find myself comparing it to my prior marriages and one of the main factors I come to is respect. I did not respect my ex-husband nor did he respect me. That marriage turned into the mean, hateful relationship that emotionally did a lot of damage to the both of us.
When it comes to Steve, I deeply and genuinely respect him for his work ethic, his patience & understanding, his willingness to listen, his creativity, his intelligence, and his core values. From this respect comes everything else – trust, patience, perseverance (because sometimes life is really hard and we both just have to persevere). I want to hear what he has to say (even if I don’t agree with him which is often) because I respect his opinion.
See without respect, you will doubt each other’s intentions. You will judge his choices and take away his independence. You will feel the need to hide things from each other because you don’t want to be criticized – and this is when the marriage begins to fall apart.
4. The Truth Hurts
Steve and I always talk about what’s bothering us! And sometimes it’s it is hard because we don’t want too! BUT, we believe that if you can figure out a way to be able to always talk with your spouse about what’s bugging you then you can work on the issue.
As I call it, you have to own your truth! In other words if something is bothering you, you have to be willing to say it, explain it and be willing to talk about it. Saying it builds trust and trust builds intimacy. It may hurt, but you still need to do it. Just like building muscle, introducing some pain into your relationship through open, honest and vulnerable conversation is the only way to make the relationship stronger.
5. A Healthy Relationship Means Two Healthy Individuals
A healthy and happy relationship requires two healthy and happy individuals. That means two people with their own identities, their own interests, perspectives, and things they do by themselves, on their own time.
You have to understand that it is NOT your spouse’s job to make you happy. If you aren’t happy with yourself then you need to figure out what makes you happy, then you each bring that to the relationship.
6. Give Each Other Space – Not A Break – Just Space
Steve and I are firm believers in we need time apart on occasion. For example, every year Steve goes to different Comicons with his high school buddy, Tony. They live for these trips! It is a chance to get away from the wives, have some “bro” time, enjoy bonding over whatever Comicon superhero crap they are into…this is NOT something I get into! This is something that makes Steve happy and I have to let him have these moments.
I on the other hand, love spending time with my girls. My mother, my sister, our daughters and I do weekend getaways! We last went to San Diego and it was fabulous! Fun times, good food, no trying to make everyone happy! Steve gets that I need this time too!
By allowing each other to have the freedom to enjoy and be who we are proves that we trust and respect one another. I mean seriously, if you can’t trust your husband to have a simple fishing trip with his co-workers or a weekend spent at a comicom, what does that say about your respect for their ability to handle themselves?
7. Fight the Good Fight
For Steve and I this is a constant struggle. Often times we have to take a break and come back to the issue. That sounds fun right? Right!
That is why we try to focus on the fact that being “right” is not as important as both of us feeling respected and heard.
Yes, you may be right, but if you are right in such a way that makes your partner feel unloved, then there’s no real winner. When you are fighting try to remember not to criticize your partner’s character, don’t point blame, don’t become defensive, and don’t give up.
8. Forgive & Forget
When you end up being right about something – shut up. There is no need to rub it in their face after all is said and done.
It is my experience, when it comes to Steve and I, our problems never completely go away, they just resurface again at a later date. It’s inevitable that we will continue to have different values and perspectives on things and clash over it, repeatedly. The point here is to simply understand the difference, love them despite it, and when things get a little rough around the edges, to forgive them for it.
And lastly, pick your battles people. You only have so many fucks to give, make sure you are saving them for the real things that matter. Toilet paper placement is not something that matters!
9. The Little Things Add Up to Big Things
Steve is fucking amazing at this! I however suck and really need to work on it.
He does the little things like saying, “Goodnight, I love you,” before going to bed, holding hands during a movie, while driving or walking into a store, doing small favors here and there, helping with some household chores — these things all matter and add up over the long run.
10. Enjoy the Ride
There will be times that you feel a deep love and satisfaction, other times you want nothing to do with your spouse; sometimes you laugh together, sometimes you’re screaming at each other. It’s like a roller-coaster ride, ups and downs all the time, but as you stay together long enough the downs become less severe and the ups are more loving and contented.
Basically you have to remember that life is going to happen, and that doesn’t mean your marriage is broken. It happens to all of us, people lose jobs, family members die, couples relocate (hint hint, me right now), switch careers, make a lot of money, lose a lot of money, face health crisis, addiction, you name it. Your job is to simply enjoy the thrill of the ride with the one you love.
So in summary just remember you can work through anything as long as you are not destroying yourself or each other….and never, NEVER lose your sense of humor!!!